All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XII

Another alphabetic progression for today’s all time XI cricket post, some thoughts on events at the Ageas bowl and England’s 1st test line up and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the 12th of our alphabetic progression posts, starting today at I. Tomorrow’s post will have a historical theme, the last of these alphabetic progression posts will appear on Sunday morning, and I have an international post lined up for Monday, which leaves me subject matter to find for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts, and then on Thursday I will have an actual live test match to write about, and my gap-filling mission will have been accomplished. Before getting into the main body of today’s post it is time for an…

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Yesterday Buttler’s team bowled out Stokes’ team for 233, taking a first innings lead of 54. Bess bowled well, taking two wickets. Oliver Edward Robinson also had two wickets, and was very economical, and there was a cameo appearance from Amar Virdi in which he looked impressive and picked up the wicket of Saqib Mahmood (admittedly one of the more genuine no11s playing today). The Buttler team are now 142-4 in their second innings, with Pope going well. Dan Lawrence has not batted this time round, so I presume that he has already been told he is in the test team (otherwise this is inexcusable since if he gets to the wicket it will be to have a slog before the declaration). Moeen Ali has had a turn at the bowling crease, and Rory Burns got out to him as Team Buttler started trying to force the pace, which they have done moderately effectively, but the evidence from his spell overall was clear – he is the third best off spinner on show at the Ageas bowl behind Bess and Virdi, and the fifth best spinner, with Leach and Parkinson also better practitioners. Curran has gone down ill, and will presumably miss the test match, and with Anderson failing to impress this morning, unless Broad turns on a spectacular new ball spell when the time comes I see Robinson as the one to get the nod, meaning that allowing for the loss of Curran my XI for the test match would be: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Lawrence, *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Robinson, Bess, Wood, Archer.

ABDUL QADIR’S XI

  1. James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. He played for Nottinghamshire, mostly in the years running up to World War 1, and had a first class batting average of 35. Subsequently he became a coach, and numbered Larwood and Voce among his charges.
  2. Steve James – right handed opening batter. He played for Glamorgan, and was the first batter ever to score a triple century for the county (albeit on a very flat pitch and at a very small ground – Glamorgan topped 700 for the loss of just three wickets). He played very briefly for England, discovering as others before him had that England selectors aren’t good at picking up what happens to their west. After his retirement he became a writer, his books including the excellent “The Plan” and the interesting “The Art of Centuries”.
  3. Jacques Kallis – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Only one other test cricketer to have been a regular bowler (Alastair Cook took one test wicket at a cost of 7 runs in his long test career)  has had as big a credit balance between their batting and bowling averages as Kallis: Garfield St Aubrun Sobers.
  4. VVS Laxman – right handed batter. In partnership with Rahul Dravid he turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, so that India, following on 273 runs behind ended up winning by 171 runs, as Harbhajan Singh completed the turn around by spinning through a dispirited Australia in the 4th innings.
  5. John Morris – right handed batter. A heavy scoring stroke maker for Derbyshire, he never managed to establish himself for England, and his involvement in the ‘Tiger Moth’ incident with David Gower may well have ended his chances of so doing – certainly, even though he had scored 132 in the match in question, he was never heard from again at England level.
  6. Marcus North – left handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for a number of counties, and made a good start to his international career before falling away at that level. The axe descended on his international career during the 2010-11 series when an ill-equpped and poorly led Australia were well beaten.
  7. +Bertie Oldfield – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the finest keepers ever to play the game, his 52 test stumpings remains an all-time record.
  8. Keemo Paul – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He is best known for his performances in limited overs cricket, but he also has a respectable record in long form cricket.
  9. *Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. In the 1980s the art of leg spin nearly died out, with all due respect to Australians Bob Holland, Trevor Hohns and Peter Sleep, the latter two of whom would never have been picked but for their skills with the bat. The man who kept the embers aglow, to fanned into glorious flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s was Abdul Qadir.
  10. Raymond Robertson-Glasgow – right arm fast medium bowler. A Scot who was able to short circuit the residential qualification rules of the day because he was related to someone who owned property in Bath, and also because Somerset were past masters at dodging those rules anyway. He regularly opened the Somerset bowling with James Bridges. Both believed they should bat higher than they did, and Bridges could be said to have had the better of that little dispute since it was usually him who got to bat at the lofty heights of no10. He went on to become one of the finest writers on the game.
  11. Billy Stanlake – right arm fast bowler. He plays mainly short form cricket, especially T20, but a first class bowling average of 31 is a respectable effort for someone who is not a regular at long form cricket (he has played eight first class matches in total as compared to 28 list A games and 64 T20 games). He is often referred to by commentators as ‘big Billy’ because of his great height (2.04 metres, approximatedly 6’8″ in imperial measurements).

This team has a good top six, a top of the range keeper and four varied bowlers. The spin department is a little understocked, with only North’s part time off spin as a back up for Qadir, but Stanlake, Robertson-Glasgow, Paul and 4th seamer Kallis is certainly a respectable pace attack.

XENOPHON BALASKAS’ XI

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter. He was one of the stars of the 1989 Ashes, with 839 runs in the series – more than any other Aussie save Bradman has ever tallied in a series. That series saw the end of Australia as whipping boys and the beginning of a rise that would see them reach the top of the cricket world by 1995, and then occupy that position for another decade. The combined impact of mismanagement, Kerry Packer and Ali Bacher had seen Australia flat lining since the mid 1970s, with England winning the Ashes at home in 1977, retaining in 1978-9, retaining again in 1981, surrendering them in 1982-3 when they were themselves weakened by the attentions of Mr Bacher, regaining them in 1985 and retaining them in 1987. Then, when Australia turned the tables in 1989 a combination of English mismanagement and refusal to face the obvious saw Australia retain the urn in 1990-1, 1993, 1994-5, 1997, 1998-9, 2001 and 2002-3, and all of those eight Ashes series from 1989 through to 2002-3 England only once one a game with the series still alive, at Edgbaston in 1997. Taylor, as well as his contributions at the top of the order took on the captaincy after Border retired, eventually handing over to Steve Waugh in turn.
  2. Taufeeq Umar – left handed opening batter. Played for Pakistan at the start of the 2000s, and averaged just below 39 as an opener in test matches.
  3. Ken Viljoen – right handed batter. He batted in this position in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Averaged 58.62 in test cricket, being the only player ever to score five centuries in successive test innings. He died recently at the age of 95, the last of the ‘three Ws’ (Walcott, Weekes and Worrell, born within a few miles of each other in the space of 18 months) to die.
  5. *Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is perhaps a little higher in the order than his batting record warrants, but he was a fine all rounder in his day.
  6. Norman Yardley – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. When he went on the 1946-7 tour of Australia, which was supposed to be a ‘goodwill tour’, except that Bradman did not get the memo it was as young batter whose bowling was rarely even used by his county, but a combination of injuries and a lack of resources in that department saw him pressed into service as a bowler for his country, and he responded well, bowling economically and picking up the odd useful wicket. He captained England in the 1948 Ashes, but was one of two candidates to refuse the captaincy of the 1950-1 tour (FG Mann of Middlesex being the other).
  7. +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A brief but spectacular appearance in the limelight, during one of Pakistan’s many troubled periods.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He got his break when, at the age of 16, he bowled a spell in the nets that caught the eye of his country’s captain, Imran Khan. That was the launch of a career that saw him become one of the game’s all time greats, a fearsome fast bowler, a dangerous attacking bat in the lower middle order, and at one time captain. In 1992 he and Waqar Younis teamed up to render England’s batting feather legged. That winter in the world cup final he made the key intervention, ripping out two wickets at a crucial stage of the match and enabling his side to lift the trophy. England would spend most of the next 20 years or so after that loss producing one day cricket performances that were uninspired at best and downright incompetent at worst before a humiliating experience in the 2015 world cup would finally act as the kick up the backside they needed.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. That official description tells you about on tenth of the story of Barnes the bowler, discovered in the Lancashire nets by Archie MacLaren (England’s own nearest equivalent to the Wasim story), taken on a tour of Australia largely on the strength of that net session. A combination of him being constitutionally incapable of tugging his forelock, disapproval in official circles of his preference for Lancashire League cricket over the county ground and the fact that Lord Hawke, the Lincolnshire born author of the ‘Yorkshire born players only’ policy at that county did not see eye to eye with MacLaren and tended to disapprove of his hunches as a matter of principle led to Barnes playing less than half the number of tests he could, therefore should, have done. In 13 tests in Australia he captured 77 wickets, also taking 29 Aussie wickets in seven home tests against them, while against South Africa he captured 83 wickets in just seven test matches, and had he not quarrelled over terms and conditions with management and pulled out of what turned out to be the last test match before World War 1, he would almost certainly have had 60+ wickets for that series (he was on 49 from four matches) and been the first to 200 test wickets in what would have been his 28th game at that level.
  10. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner. 13 test wickets at 22 after two matches, 303 first class wickets at 25 each. We are likely to see something of the 27 year old off spinner in the upcoming ‘biosecure’ test series. This is a possible head to head contest between someone named Cornwall, and someone who was born in the neighboring county of Devon (there four Devonians in the current England camp, Bess the offspinner, Gregory the seam bowling all rounder and the Overton twins – one a genuinely fast bowler, one a fast medium, while England women’s captain Heather Knight was also born in Devon). I do not particularly expect to Gregory or either Overton in test action, but Bess must surely play.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 each and never a single England cap. In the 1907 season, a very wet one in which in those days of “ooncoovered pitches” spinners flourished, he took over 200 first class wickets. The trouble was that Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe were even greater masters of the art of left arm spin bowling than he was, and Frank Woolley always commanded a place as a batter.

This side has a decent top four, and the presence of Wasim Akram at no 8 means that all the next four are also capable of major innings. The bowling, with Akram and Barnes to take the new ball, Dennett, Cornwall and the skipper as spin options and Yardley’s medium paced nibblers as sixth option is very strong.

THE CONTEST

Abdul Qadir’s XI have the stronger batting line up, but Xenophon Balaskas’ XI have a quartet of front line bowlers that looks seriously formidable, plus the skipper. In keeping with my reckoning that it is the bowlers who win matches I make Xenophon Balaskas’ XI definite favourites. If the pitch turns than Qadir will struggle to match the combined efforts of Cornwall, Dennett and the opposition skipper. Over at the Ageas bowl Team Stokes have been set 255 for victory, and are 46-0 in the 13th, with Sibley and Bairstow opening.

PHOTOGRAPHS

While I have been typing this up Team Stokes have moved to 126-2, needing a further 129 with 19 and a half overs to be bowled. Zak Crawley, no 3 in the test for a certainty (Denly’s score of one for Team Buttler earlier today removed any tiny lingering doubt there) is going well. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

IMG_1348 (2)IMG_1350 (2)IMG_1352 (2)IMG_1354 (2)IMG_1355 (2)IMG_1356 (2)IMG_1356 (3)IMG_1359 (2)IMG_1361 (2)IMG_1361 (3)IMG_1361 (4)IMG_1362 (2)IMG_1365 (2)IMG_1365TTAXII

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XI

The eleventh alphabetic progression post in this series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the eleventh alphabetic progression post i this series. When we get to the main body of this post today’s first XI will start at M as our last such ended at L, but there are a couple of things to attend to first…

CORRECTION

In yesterday’s ‘Alec v Charles‘ post I described Alex Lees as a right handed batter. As a twitter correspondent swiftly pointed out he actually bats left handed. I apologize for the error. I would also like to thank the ‘Womens County Cricket Day‘ twitter account for sharing my post and commenting approvingly on the selection of Alex Hartley, the left arm spinner, in the Alec XI.

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Team Buttler reached 287-5 by the close of yesterday, with Bracey making 85 and Lawrence 58. They declared on that overnight score, as was virtually mandatory in a game of this nature. Today’s play has been slow so far, initially because Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes bowled very few balls in the appropriate area, both being habitually wide, and both operating at a decidedly sluggish pace. Between them in 11 overs they managed one genuinely threatening delivery, a ball on which Broad appealed vociferously and at length for LBW, but to no avail. Archer and Wood livened things up, being both quicker and more accurate than their predecessors at the bowling crease, and Archer accounted for Sibley courtesy of a close catch. Oliver Edward Robinson (full name, because there is a young wicket keeper named Oliver Graham Robinson who is on the fringes of the England set up) bowled accurately but unthreateningly, and unless he can find at least an extra yard of pace from somewhere it is hard to see him worrying international class batters. Dom Bess ended Jennings’ purely defensive innings of 23 with a good delivery just before lunch. Zak Crawley, almost sure to bat at three in the test match, is just starting to play nicely, and at present he has Jonny Bairstow, who needs to play a major innings to press his case, for company. For the record, my team based on previous thoughts and the day and bit of action at the Ageas bowl would be: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Lawrence (remember Root is absent), *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Curran, Bess, Wood, Archer – Anderson was less unimpressive yesterday than Broad has been today, but at the moment neither appear to be at full throttle, so I am going for both the ultra quick bowlers, who have been impressive, with Curran’s left arm medium fast as third seam option, Stokes to operate in short bursts as and when needed and Bess’ off spin.

VINOO MANKAD’S XI

  1. *Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He regularly opened for India, sharing an opening stand of 413 with Pankaj Roy on one occasion. In one match at Lord’s he scored 72 and 184, taking a five-for in the intervening England innings. It took him just 23 matches to reach the test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, a figure beaten only by Ian Botham – 21 matches. My views on slow bowling all rounders as captaincy candidates should be known to all by now.
  2. Mudassar Nazar – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. An adhesive opener who holds the record for the longest time spent batting in the course of a series (it was a six match series against India, and his job was to soak up lots of time, softening the bowling up for the stroke makers in Pakistan’s middle order). He also holds the record for the slowest ever test century, taking over eight hours to reach three figures on one occasion.
  3. Edgar Oldroyd – right handed batter. Over 15,000 first class runs at 35, and never called up for England. As Yorkshire’s regular no3 in the 1920s he spent a lot of time padded up ready to bat – Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe put on a total of 69 century opening stands for Yorkshire. His granddaughter Eleanor is a well known sports commentator, broadcaster and presenter.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter. After the top batters have softened the bowling up we need some stroke makers to cash in, and few fit that bill better than Kevin Pietersen. A number of his best test innings were played after Strauss, Cook and Trott had given the England innings a solid start.
  5. Quinton De Kock – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Another attacking middle order batter to back up Pietersen. I have selected him as a Q based on his first name because Q is a difficult letter to fill, and at least by allowing myself this latitude I also solve the wicket keeping problem.
  6. Ernie Robson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. An all rounder who scored over 10,000 first class runs and took over 1,000 first class wickets. At the age of 53 he won a match for Somerset by hitting a six in the final possible over. As a bowler his speciality was outswing, and Jack Hobbs rated him as difficult as any bowler he ever faced. Jimmy Anderson might like to note that he was still doing damage with his outswinger right to the end of his career, as mentioned at the age of 53.
  7. Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. In 1988 he was the last cricketer to achieve the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. Anyone managing that in today’s 14 game first class season would achieve a feat comparable with George Hirst’s 1906 ‘double double’ of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
  8. Fred Titmus – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Among Middlesex bowlers only JT Hearne took more career first class wickets than Titmus, who made his debut in 1949, and became one of the few cricketers to play first class matches in five different decades when he answered an SOS in 1982.
  9. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets is proof of his efficacy as a bowler.
  10. Tayla Vlaeminck – right arm fast bowler. The 21 year old Aussie describes herself as a fast bowler, a detail that has not yet reached those who maintain player records at cricinfo. She and Issy Wong of England both have their sights set on bowling at over 80mph (two earlier Aussies, Sharon Tredrea and Cathryn Fitzpatrick may already have done so, but the recording equipment that would prove it was not around in their day, while South African Shabnim Ismail is also not far away). She was born in Bendigo, the very same town as one of Australia’s first bowling greats, Harry Boyle, Spofforth’s partner in destruction and capturer of the final wicket at The Oval in 1882 in the match that led to the creation of The Ashes.
  11. Courtney Walsh – right arm fast bowler. Whatever you may say about the positioning of some of the other members of this XI he is certainly in his correct slot in the batting order. He was the first bowler ever to take 500 test wickets, though his longevity was actually of doubtful benefit to the West Indies because it masked the extent of their decline from the heights they once occupied, which in combination with ostrich logic/ wishful thinking by the West Indian powers that be meant that when reality hit it did so with sledgehammer power.

This side has a good top five, two genuine all rounders and four quality bowlers. Walsh, Vlaeminck, Stephenson and Robson represent a fine pace/swing/seam quartet, with Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile plus the spin of Titmus and Mankad providing further good options.

CLARE CONNOR’S XI

  1. Xavier Marshall – right handed opening batter. Double international, having played for his native West Indies and the USA. X is the most difficult letter of all to fill.
  2. Martin Young – right handed opening batter. Long serving Gloucestershire opener.
  3. Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. The only Pakistani to score 100 first class 100 hundreds. He played for Gloucestershire for many years, and was known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, which, in addition to the difficulties posed by that letter, is why I have used him as a Z for this purpose. He was one of the early masters of ODI batting, being the first ever to score centuries in three successive ODIs, and the first Pakistani to score as many as seven ODI centuries.
  4. Tommy Andrews – right handed batter. Averaged almost 40 in overall first class cricket, but was not a success in his test career. His record also looks a little better when you bear in mind that he made his first class debut in the 1912-3 Aussie season, and thus had his career disrupted just as he was looking to establish himself. He was also acknowledged as an outstanding fielder in the covers.
  5. Ian Bell – right handed batter. An excellent timer of a cricket ball. He looked out of his depth against the 2005 Australians (some thought England should have kept faith with the gritty left hander Graham Thorpe for that series, before bringing Bell through against less testing opposition), but thereafter his improvement was rapid. His career is not quite over – he has just signed a contract with Warwickshire to play until the end of the 2021 season.
  6. *Clare Connor – right handed batter, captain. She played for the first XI of Brighton College, the first female to do so (much to the disapproval of some of the more antediluvian types associated with cricket), blazing a trail followed subsequently by spinner Holly Colvin and keeper/ batter Sarah Taylor. She went on to be a hugely successful captain of England women. In spite of all this it is arguable that her most recent triumph is her greatest of all – for the first time in its 233 year history the MCC has a woman president, and yes, the woman in question is Clare Connor. She is also well known to those who listen to cricket on the radio as a commentator.
  7. +Haydn Davies wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was Glamorgan’s keeper when they won their first county championship in 1948.
  8. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He took his first class wickets at 13.55 each, a similar average to his near contemporary Fred Morley and just a bit more than the 12.09 recorded by the slightly older William Mycroft (they were both also left arm quick bowlers). He played in the first three test matches, being part of James Lillywhite’s 1876-7 tour party and one of two professionals brought along by Lord Harris in 1878-9 to do the bowling (George Ulyett was the other), meaning that he toiled hard in those months but also that he avoided one of Britain’s most unpleasant winters – the last to be cold enough for the river Thames to freeze over.
  9. Kenneth Farnes – right arm fast bowler. The Essex amateur was one of the fastest bowlers of the second half of the 1930s. He died in a flying accident in World War II, so his career was very brief.
  10. Tom Goddard – off spinner. He started as a fast bowler, even taking a first class hat trick in that style, before Charlie Parker (left arm spinner, 3,278 first class wickets) noted his huge hands and suggested that he might go further as a spinner. Goddard spent three years reinventing himself as an off spinner, before returning to the fray. Since he would play on for another quarter of a century and finish with a tally of 2,979 first class wickets, including doing the hat trick a further five times, and it was only an attack of pleurisy that finally induced him to hang up his boots it can safely be said that Parker made the right call, and that Goddard did well to heed it.
  11. Jack Hill – leg spinner. He toured England with 1953 Australians, and though he never established himself at test level (a certain R Benaud providing a rather large obstacle in that direction) he had a respectable first class record.

This side has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four varied bowlers. There is not much back up to the front four bowlers – Ian Bell would probably be next in line for a bowl with his medium pacers, but Emmett, Farnes, Goddard and Hill look a pretty useful foursome.

THE CONTEST

Clare Connor’s XI are probably stronger in batting, though Vinoo Mankad’s XI have good depth in that department. Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a greater range of bowling options, while Clare Connor’s XI would be heavily reliant on their front four bowlers. Clare Connor’s XI would also of course be boosted by her captaincy. I expect a good contest, but I think that Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a definite edge here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The warm up game at the Ageas bowl has moved on while I have been typing this. Team Stokes are now 167-5, with Zak Crawley and the eponym, Stokes, having each scored forties. Bairstow made just 11, not nearly enough to earn selection at this stage. Archer, Wood, Woakes, Bess and leg spinner Parkinson each have a wicket. Bess has had plenty of bowling, which augurs well for him – just so long as the selectors don’t fudge things by picking Ali for the spinners slot on the grounds that ‘he can bat’. On that note, here is my usual sign off…

IMG_1340 (2)IMG_1341 (2)IMG_1342 (2)IMG_1344 (2)IMG_1345 (2)IMG_1346 (2)TTA XITTA XI

All Time XIs – Charles v Alec

Today’s all time XIs cricket post look towards the rebirth of test cricket by paying tribute to a pair of brothers who were involved in the birth of test cricket – Charles and Alec Bannerman.

INTRODUCTION

Today is the start of new month, and also the start of an England intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas bowl in preparation for the resumption of test cricket next week. This match is 14 vs 13, not 11 vs 11, so does not have first class status, but is significant because of what it portends and because there is a batting vacancy at no4, since Joe Root is attending the birth of his child and will then be quarantining for 14 days. Team Buttler have been put into bat by Team Stokes, and as I start this post are 119-1, with James Bracey making an early bid for the vacant batting slot having passed 50. I aim to keep my all time XIs cricket series going until the test match gets underway, when I will give that my full attention. Today’s post harks back to the early days of international cricket, inspired by my rereading John Lazanby’s “The Strangers Who Came Home”, a brilliantly crafted reconstruction of the 1878 tour of England. As a tribute to the contrasting Bannerman brothers I have pitted a team of 11 Alecs/ Alexes against 11 Charleses/Charlies/Charls.

ALEC XI

  1. Alec Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Australia’s first stonewaller. He never managed a test century, his best being 94, while his most famous was a 91 in seven and a half hours, which included a whole uninterrupted day in which he advanced his score by 67.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. A blocker is best accompanied by someone of more attacking inclination to avoid the innings becoming entirely bogged down, and Alec Stewart fits the bill perfectly. He scored more test runs in the 1990s than anyone else, in spite of being messed around by the selectors of the time, who often used him as a wicket keeper in an effort to strengthen the batting.
  3. Alex Lees – right handed batter. A third recognized opener, and one who as a teenager played an innings of 275 for his native Yorkshire. He did not quite go on to scale the heights that this innings suggested he was capable of, and subsequently moved from Yorkshire to Durham.
  4. Alex Blackwell – right handed batter. A former captain of the Aussie Women’s team, with a fine batting record. When the commentators picked a composite team at the end of the 2010-1 Ashes Jonathan Agnew named as the token Aussie in an otherwise all English line up.
  5. Alex Gidman – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. Over 11,000 first class runs at an average of 36 and never got the opportunity to play for England.
  6. +Alex Davies – right handed batter, wicket keeper. 171 dismissals effected in 75 first class matches and a batting average of 34.55 at that level. He is better known for his efforts in limited overs cricket, where his rapidity of scoring is especially useful, but he should not be typecast as a limited overs specialist.
  7. Alec O’Riordan – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He played a starring role in Ireland’s dramatic victory of the West Indies at Sion Mills in 1969 and was for a long time the best all rounder that country had produced.
  8. Alec Kennedy – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He played for Hampshire for the thick end of 30 years, pretty much carrying their bowling in that period, with support from Jack Newman and Stuart Boyes.
  9. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest bowlers of his type ever to play the game. He was taught by the all rounder Alan Peach how to grip the ball if he wanted it to go straight through rather than swinging. When Bedser tried this himself he actually found that the ball spun from leg to off, and one of the deliveries he bowled in that fashion was described by Bradman as “the best ball ever to take my wicket.”
  10. Alex Tudor – right arm fast bowler. With Kennedy, Bedser and O’Riordan all steady types we definitely have space for an out and out speedster, and Tudor is that man. He is actually best known for a batting effort, on his test debut against New Zealand, when he was sent in as nightwatchman and was 99 not out when England completed their victory (Graham Thorpe, who came in with victory already pretty much certain, blitzed a succession of boundaries to finish it, the second time he may have been responsible for a batter finishing unbeaten in the 90s, after the incident where Atherton declared with Hick 98 not out, and it appeared that Thorpe had failed to pass on a message from the skipper). His career was subsequently blighted by injuries and he never did get to complete a century.
  11. *Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. We have been short of spin options so far, but fortunately we have a world cup winning spinner to round out the XI. She has subsequently lost her England place, and given how many talented young spinners there are now in England women’s cricket it is unlikely that she will regain it, but the world cup winner’s medal cannot be taken away from her.

This side has an excellent top six including a decent quality keeper, a genuine all rounder at seven and four varied bowlers. The side is short of spinners, with Hartley the only real option in that department, but O’Riordan’s left arm and Bedser’s one that spun from leg to off means that this is far from being a monotonous bowling attack. The fact that there are five front line bowlers allows for Tudor being used in short bursts at top pace.

NOT PICKED

Hampshire stalwart Alec Bowell just missed out. Alex Loudon with a batting average of 31 and a bowling average of 40 was the reverse of an all rounder, and although an off spinner would have been useful he had to be ignored. Alex Barnett, a left arm spinner, did not have a record to warrant displacing a world cup winner. Alex Hales is mainly a white ball player, and is also under a cloud because of his personal conduct.

CHARLES XI

  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Scored 165 in the first innings of the first test, in an all out tally of 245, still the biggest proportion of a test innings ever scored by one person. In 1878 he became the first Australian to score a century in England, having already done so in New Zealand, and he would later make it a quadruple by racking up a ton in Canada en route back to Australia.
  2. Charles Hallows – left handed opening batter. An excellent counterpoint to the all attacking right hander Bannerman, since he was more defensively inclined. He opened the batting for Lancashire in their greatest period in the 1920s, and in 1928 he became the third and last player to score 1,000 first class runs actually in the month of May (Bradman, twice, Edrich, Hayward, Hick and Glenn Turner each reached 1,000 first class runs in an English season before the start of June, but all benefitted from games played in April) exactly one year after Walter Hammond had equalled the 1895 achievement of WG Grace. At the start of May 30th 1928 Hallows was on 768 runs for the season, Lancashire won the toss and batted, and by the close Hallows had reached 190 not out. He got those 42 runs on the morning of May 31, and then a combination of exhaustion and relief caused him to snick one behind and he was out for 232, with his aggregate precisely 1,000 for the season. In all he scored 55 first class hundreds and averaged 40 with the bat in his first class career.
  3. Charles Burgess Fry – right handed batter. A third recognized opener. In amongst all the other extraordinary things he did in his life he amassed 94 first class centuries, and recorded a first class average of 50. When his career started no one had ever scored more than three successive first class hundreds, and in 1901 he broke that record and went on to make it six in succession before the sequence finally ended, a record which has been equalled by Bradman and Procter but never surpassed.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. In 1926, at the age of 40, he scored centuries in each of three successive tests (to no avail for his side, as those games all finished in draws and England won the final match at The Oval to take the Ashes). Five years earlier he had hit Nottinghamshire for 345 in 232 minutes, the highest score by an Australian on tour of England.
  5. Charlie Townsend – right handed batter, leg spinner. In 1894 he became only the second player to score 2,000 first class runs and take 100 first class wickets in a season.
  6. *Charles Palmer – right handed batter, medium pace bowler/ off spinner, captain. One of his bowling stints gave him a shot at the record books – he had figures of 8-0, and he he stopped bowling at that point he would have been indelibly there. He kept going, and the spell was broken, and he ended up having to settle for a mere 8-7 (behind Laker 8-2, Shackleton 8-4, Peate 8-5 and level with George Lohmann who achieved his 8-7 in a test match)! He scored just over 17,000 first class runs at 31, and his 365 wickets cost 25 each.
  7. +Charles Wright – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He played in the late Victorian era, scoring almost 7,000 first class runs and making 235 dismissals of which 40 were stumpings.
  8. Charlie Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. Joint quickest ever to the career landmark of 100 test wickets, achieved in his 17th match. Only bowler ever to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season.
  9. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third leading first class wicket taker ever, with 3,278 scalps, and yet only one England appearance. At Leeds in 1926 he was in the 12 but left out on the morning of the match.
  10. Charl Willoughby – left arm fast medium bowler. An excellent record for Somerset in county cricket, and his left handedness is a useful variation.
  11. Charlie Shreck – right arm fast bowler. The 6’7″ Cornish born quick bowler took 577 first class wickets at 31.80, a respectable rather than outstanding record. His pace and height will be useful in this attack.

This team has a strong top six, a keeper and four varied bowlers. Willoughby, Shreck and Turner are a fine pace attack, while Parker, Townsend and the more occasional stuff of Palmer offer plenty of spin.

MISSING

Charlie Barnett had a fair claim on opening slot, but I felt that with the attacking Bannerman claiming one slot someone steadier was required. Similarly, given the overload of available openers of quality I could not find a place for Charlotte Edwards. Charlie McGahey who played for Essex in the early 20th century had a good record as a middle order batter, but he did not the bowling of Townsend or the combined bowling and captaincy of Palmer. Australian keeper Charles Walker might have had the gloves instead of Wright. Charl Langeveldt had a decent record as a right arm medium fast bowler, but Willoughby’s left handedness worked in his favour. Charles Dagnall, now well known as a commentator, did not have a particularly special record as a medium fast bowler for Leicestershire and Warwickshire, and so although his name is well known I could not pick him.

THE CONTEST

We have two well balanced sides here, although the Charles XI has the better balanced bowling unit, and a more powerful engine room to its batting (Hallows, Fry, Macartney), though the Alec XI bats deeper with Bedser at nine and Tudor at 10.

LOOKING AHEAD

Buttler’s XI are currently going very well, with Bracey now in the 80s and Dan Lawrence having made a rapid start being on 32 off 38 balls (he would be my pick for the no4 slot vacated by Root, so I am especially pleased to see that he is going well. The plan for this series, as mentioned earlier, is to keep it going until the test match gets underway. I am also going to float a speculative kite: there is enough material in this series of blog posts to fill a book if people would be interested in reading it. Bracey has just gone, c Foakes b J Overton 85,  to make it 196-3.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet X

Continuing the all time XI #cricket series with a tenth ‘through the alphabet’ post. Also includes some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the tenth in our alphabetic progression mini series. Unlike yesterday I also have some photos to share. Today we start with a Q…

IMAD WASIM’S XI

  1. Willie Quaife – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. When it comes to opening batters whose surnames begin with Q there is really only one contender, the man who played for Warwickshire for almost 35 years, signing off with a century at the age of 56 years and four months. In the later years of his career he did on occasion open the batting with his son Bernard, but the latter only ever got picked because of whose son he was – he was not close to being top player (my source for this is long serving Warwickshire keeper EJ “Tiger” Smith by way of the ‘autobiography’ he gave to Pat Murphy by means of a series of recorded interviews).
  2. Chris Rogers – left handed opening batter. His test record for Australia was not stellar, partly because he was long past his prime before becoming a regular member of the side, but he was a seriously big scorer for Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex in the county championship.
  3. Robin Smith – right handed batter. One of those rare batters who positively relished doing battle with the opposition fast bowlers (George Gunn, the Nottinghamshire legend was another, as was an earlier Hampshire man, George Brown) and even rarer in being an England player who actually enhanced his reputation during the 1989 Ashes series (keeper Jack Russell was the only other of whom that could be said). Another rare club to which Smith belongs is the ‘winners of a sledging contest with Merv Hughes’ club, again from that 1989 Ashes series. After a Smith play and miss Hughes, the bowler, said to him “you can’t ****ing bat”, Smith smacked the next ball for four and said “we make a fine pair: I can’t ****ing bat and you can’t ****ing bowl”.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. Don Bradman, then a very old man, was watching a match an the TV at home and thought he had spotted something about the young man who was batting. He called his wife through to verify his observation, and Lady Jessie Bradman confirmed that yes, there was more than a passing resemblance between the methods of the batter in that match and Don’s own. The batter was, of course, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who would go on to become the first and to date only batter to score 100 hundreds in international matches.
  5. Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. He was at one time India’s leading test run scorer. There was a question mark about him against genuine pace, which he never got to face in Indian domestic cricket. Fred Trueman once claimed that on one occasion when he was bowling at Umrigar the square leg umpire was nearer the wicket than Umrigar. At No5, behind this side’s top four he is unlikely to be facing fast bowlers who have not already done a fair amount of bowling.
  6. +Roy Virgin – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was only an occasional wicket keeper, but V is a difficult letter to fill. He was once named in the 12 for England but left out on the morning of the match, and that was as close to international cricket as he came.
  7. *Imad Wasim – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He has played ODIs and T20Is with some success, but not yet test cricket. His first class record is 3,702 runs at 40.68 and 141 wickets at 31.14. I have named him as captain based on my thinking about slow bowling all rounders in this role. A cynic might say that since he is a Pakistani who is already an established part of their international set up I have a better than average chance of finding out how he handles the captaincy, given the way they go through captains.
  8. Xara Jetly – off spinner. This side has a longish looking tail, with the young kiwi off spinner at no8. X is a difficult letter to fill, and there is enough in her recent performances to at least suggest promise, and at the age of 18 she is certainly young enough to improve.
  9. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. One of the attributes that is said to have made the Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman so difficult for opposition batters was his lack of height, which enabled him to release the ball upwards, making it difficult for the batters to follow its flight. Poonam Yadav is even shorter than Freeman’s 5’2″ and takes a similar approach to her own leg spin, releasing the ball upwards, and in her case, at as slow a pace as can ever have been seen in top level cricket.
  10. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. The best pace bowler to have come from Afghanistan thus far, and he has an experienced new ball partner here in the form of…
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. 584 test wickets, and officially still counting. When the ‘bio-secure’ series starts next week we will see if he is in the England team. For me the choice is between him and Broad, with Curran (left arm, and a useful lower order batter), Wood (searing pace) and Bess the others chosen primarily for bowling and Stokes the all rounder providing a fourth pace option, with Parkinson possibly replacing Curran if a second specialist spinner is warranted (unlikely on a 21st century English pitch). However, whether or not he is selected for that match, his record speaks for itself, and in this team his experience will be invaluable.

This side has a fine top six, an admitted gamble with Roy Virgin, an occasional in the role in his playing days, trusted with the keeping gloves, an effective all rounder, two quality specialist spinners and an excellent new ball pairing.

JACK IDDON’S XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter.
  2. Bransby Beauchamp Cooper – right handed opening batter. He once shared an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace, and as a participant in the inaugural test match at Melbourne in 1877 has the distinction of being the first test cricketer to have been born in what is now Bangladesh (he was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh).
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. For many years the sheet anchor of the Indian test team. Probably his greatest innings was at Kolkata in 2001, when he played the support role to VVS Laxman’s pyrotechnics, as India came back from being made to follow on to win by 171 runs, scoring 657-7 declared in that second innings.
  4. George Emmett – right handed batter. A Gloucestershire stalwart of the immediate post world war two era who played a few matches for England.
  5. Francis Ford – left handed batter. He was in his prime in the last decade of the 19th century, when he acquired a reputation for ‘gentle violence’ at the crease. He played a part in the first test victory by a side made to follow on, at Sydney in 1894. He contributed an aggressive 48 to England’s second innings revival, which saw them reach 437, setting Australia 177 to win. Australia were then spun to defeat when overnight rain gave Peel and Briggs a vicious sticky to exploit.
  6. John Gunn – left handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. The youngest of three brothers who all played for Nottinghamshire. At one time he held the county record individual score with 294, and he took over 1,000 first class wickets at 25 each.
  7. +Ian Healy – wicket keeper, right handed batter. After Rod Marsh’s retirement in 1984 Australia struggled to find a keeper, as they did in other respects in that period. Then in 1989 along came Ian Healy, a champion keeper, a useful batter who reserved his best performances for the test arena (usually against England) and even in that Aussie unit a stand out sledger.
  8. Jack Iddon – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Slightly out of position, as he was in reality more of a batter than a bowler, but his bowling record was very respectable, and given England’s fairly recent usage of Moeen Ali in the test team I am not going to be overly apologetic about this one.
  9. Les Jackson – right arm fast bowler. A phenomenal bowler for Derbyshire, but picked only twice for England.
  10. Anil Kumble – leg spinner. The third leading wicket taker in test history, and one of only two to have taken all ten wickets in a test innings.
  11. David Lawrence – right arm fast bowler. A combination of the unwillingness of the then England selectors to pick him and Devon Malcolm in the same team and a horrific knee injury curtailed his test chances, but he was consistently successful for Gloucestershire.

This team has a solid top five, a couple of all rounders, a keeper who can bat and three excellent bowlers. Jackson, Lawrence, Kumble, Gunn and Iddon should be able to take 20 wickets between them on any surface.

THE CONTEST

This should be close. Jack Iddon’s XI are stronger in batting, but Imad Wasim’s XI have a somewhat better bowling attack. I cannot call this one.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Masks, handmade for the use of members of NAS West Norfolk.

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Me wearing one of the masks today.
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Close up of the mask in position.
TTAX
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VIII

Today’s all time XI continues the alphabetic progression, starting with a Y.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket post. After yesterday’s England v West Indies special we resume our alphabetic progression sequence of squads, starting with a Y.

PERCY FENDER’S XI

  1. Martin Young – right handed opening batter. A consisten run scorer for Gloucestershire for many years.
  2. Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. The attacking Afghan opener shuuld complement the more restrained Young very nicely.
  3. Chris Adams – right handed batter. He played for Derbyshire for many years before moving south to Sussex, who he captained to their first ever county championship title. Although prolific at county level he never quite delivered for England (though it must be acknowledged that he was given few opportunities to do so). He has gone on to a coaching career in which he has also enjoyed some success, being involved with the Surrey set up for one of their championship wins.
  4. Allan Border – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, vice captain. The first person to reach the career milestone of 11,000 test runs, and until another resolute left handed, Alastair Cook, went past it he held the record for consecutive test appearances, having played the last 153 of his 156 tests in succession. His career had two distinct components – part 1, when he was desperately attempting to hold together a struggling outfit, and was very often the only serious stumbling block faced by opposition bowlers, and part 2, when Australian efforts to rebuild began to bear fruit, and they went from chumps to champs in the space of a few years, a position they would occupy undisputed for another decade after Border’s retirement. I don’t often name vice captains in this series, but his status as the captain who turned Australia’s fortunes round in the late 1980s has to be acknowledged, and I had another player in the team I wanted to name captain.
  5. Michael Clarke – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. To put it mildly he was not universally popular with Australian fans during his playing career, but the excellence of his record at the highest level cannot be denied. He had, in common with many of his team mates, a very poor series in the 2010-11 Ashes, and some of his efforts to avoid being seen to covet his skipper’s job were overdone to say the very least – such as suggesting that he at 29 might be retiring before the 36 year old Ponting. It may also have not have helped when in the final match of that series, with Ponting injured, the debutant Khawaja was given the job of filling the no3 slot while the veteran Clarke stayed down the order.
  6. +AB De Villiers – right handed batter, wicket keeper. An explosive middle order batter and a fine keeper. Although he was best known for his performances in limited overs cricket his test record was also splendid.
  7. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Although it was his bowling for which he was chiefly noted he could definitely bat as well – at one time Yorkshire pressed him into service as an opening batter when they were short. 
  8. *Percy Fender – leg spinner, right handed batter. An all rounder who once scored a first class century in 35 minutes against proper bowling (various quicker efforts appear in footnotes in the record books as they were scored against bowlers who were trying to concede quick runs to bring about a declaration, a ‘tactic’ that was once common in county cricket. He never got to captain England, but was universally acknowledged to be superb at the job, which is why I have named as captain of this side.
  9. Charlie Griffith – right arm fast bowler. One half of a great fast bowling pair. There is an amusing story from their schooldays featuring Griffith bowling off spin interspersed with the odd quicker one while the other member of the duo was keeping wicket.
  10. Wes Hall – right arm fast bowler. He bowled the final over of the first ever tied test, at Brisbane in 1960, spilling a catch that he would have been well advised to leave to Rohan Kanhai along the way. At Lord’s in 1963, when the match ended in a draw with England six runs and the West Indies one wicket short of the line, he bowled an epic unchanged spell on the final day.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. Australia’s oldest ever test cricketer – he was 46 when he made his debut and 51 when he played his last test match. He and Bill O’Reilly were the bowling stars of Australia’s only victory in the 1932-3 Ashes series, at Melbourne, and the same duo shot South Africa out for 36 and 45 in a test match in which Bradman crocked himself and was unable to bat and Australia still won by an innings and 72 runs.

This team has a fine top six, including a keeper batter, and a bowling attack that is beautifully balanced, with left arm pace, right arm pace, leg spin and left arm orthodox spin. There is no off spin and no purveyor of ‘chinamen’, It is a side that I would expect to give a good account of itself.

MONTY NOBLE’S XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The MVP of the 1996 cricket world cup, and he had a fine test record as well.
  2. Michael Klinger – right handed opening batter. One of the better batters never to play test cricket, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career for South Australia, and was often mentioned as a possible for the test side. He did get to play a few T20Is.
  3. Roy Levy – left handed batter. He played 25 matches for Queensland in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and his record does not look stellar. He qualifies by virtue of an innings played at the age of 22 against South Australia with 37 year old leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett in their ranks. The match was desperately close in the final stages, as Levy shepherded the Queensland tail towards the target. Eventually Levy chanced his arm against the bowler at the other end to Grimmett, sent the ball into the air towards Grimmett who missed the catch, and then compounded the felony by shying wildly at the stumps and missing, which enabled Levy to complete the winning run. Levy in that innings finished with 85 not out, and Queensland won by one wicket. There is a detailed account of the match in Patrick Murphy’s “Fifty Incredible Cricket Matches”.
  4. Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler.
  5. *Monty Noble – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler/ off spinner. A genuine all rounder and a fine captain as well. He and Warwick Armstrong once put on 428 together for Australia against Sussex for the sixth wicket.
  6. Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The Kent, Northamptonshire and Ireland keeper established a fine record over a long period of time.
  7. Anuja Patil – off spinner, right handed batter. Her international experience has been limited to T20s thus far, but her record makes impressive reading.
  8. Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. 67 test matches, 236 wickets at 32.80 at a time when spinners were in eclipse due to the success of Clive Lloyd’s battery of four fast bowlers for the West Indies, and a tendency developed therefrom by other countries to treat spinners as ‘fill-in’ bowlers. Leg spin in particular was all but extinct – the only specialist leg spinner who played international cricket at the same time as Qadir that I can think of was the older Australian Bob Holland, and save for once against the West Indies dear old ‘Dutchy’ was never a match winner. In 1986 at Faisalabad Qadir took 6-16 in the second West Indies innings as they slumped to a then all-time low for them of 53 all out, and defeat by 186 runs.
  9. Tom Richardson – right arm fast bowler. His thousandth first class wicket came in 134th match and his 2,000th in his 327th match at that level, both of which figures remain all time record. From the start of 1894 to the end of 1897 – four seasons and one tour of Australia – he captured over 1,000 wickets, a period of sustained destructiveness matched only by Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman. Neville Cardus selected Richardson as one of his “Six Giants of the Wisden Century” in 1963 because he was a real life version of a storybook fast bowler. He learned his craft on Mitcham Common, and as Surrey’s star fast bowler thought nothing of walking from his home in Mitcham to The Oval (a substantial walk, I can tell you, as someone who grew up in southwest London myself) with his kit bag, doing a day’s bowling and walking home again at the end.
  10. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow bowler. His dictum was “length and successful variations of pace are the key to successful bowling.” He bowled more overs in his career than he conceded runs (admittedly for most of his career an over consisted of four balls). He took over 2,000 wickets at 12 runs a piece, with his best season seeing him claim 186 at 8.54 each in first class matches. He also dismissed WG Grace more often than any other bowler – 49 times in all (they met in many types of fixture, including Gentlemen vs Players, North v South, Under 30 v Over 30, etc.). He bowled the first delivery ever in a test match. In the 1881 Gentlemen vs Players match (he was a professional, so played for the Players) he made what turned out to be a crucial 8 not out in the Players second innings, and then took 6-19 in the Gentlemen’s second innings, ending the match by taking a blinder off his own bowling to give the Players victory by two runs. After retiring from Nottinghamshire who he served for many years he became coach at Sussex, and in a crisis came out of retirement for them and proceeded to show a new generation what all the fuss had been about 20 years earlier.
  11. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. When there was all the hoop-la about Shoaib Akhtar’s first record 100mph delivery (which the batter played calmly to square leg with no apparent difficulty) one person who was resolutely unimpressed was Jeffrey Robert Thomson, who believed, not entirely unjustifiably that he had regularly propelled the ball at that speed 25 years earlier. He in tandem with Dennis Lillee and backed up the fast medium of Max Walker destroyed England in 1974 and 1975, and it was a 5-1 series defeat in that part of the world, again mainly caused by Lillee and Thomson that planted the germ of the four fast bowler idea in Clive Lloyd’s mind, and idea that crystallized when India scored 406-4 to win at Trinidad a few months later with the West Indies fielding three spinners because the pitch was expected to turn.

This side has some decent batting, a quality wicket keeper, and lots of bowling. Thomson, Richardson and Shaw, with Noble as fourth option in that department provide  ‘seam’ options, while Qadir and Patil offer two contrasting spin options, with Noble as back up in that department as well.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I offered the following problem from brilliant to readers yesterday:

Exponent

Here is Pall Marton’s published solution, a genuinely brilliant effort:

Pall Marton

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Alison, who some of readers will know as ‘the unabashed autist‘ now has a new site, alisonrising, which I recommend to all of you – please visit and subscribe. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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TTA VIII
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – England v West Indies Special

A Saturday Spectacular in the all-time XI cricket series, inspired by a combination of today’s retrolive commentary and the upcoming ‘bio-secure’ test series.

INTRODUCTION

Todau a ‘retrolive’ commentary on the Headingley Test of 2017 between England and the West Indies began, and a week on Thursday the first ‘bio-secure’ test of the post Covid-19 era gets underway between the same two sides. Today’s all time XIs post therefore interrupts our sequence of ‘through the alphabet‘ posts to pit an England XI all of whom had great moments against the West Indies against a West Indies XI all of whom had great moments against England.

ENGLAND

  1. Dennis Amiss – right handed opening batter. In the Kingston test of 1973 England were staring down both barrels as they went into their second innings. They escaped with a draw, and when stumps were drawn at the end of the match Amiss was on career best 262 not out. In 1974 and 1975 a ferocious working over by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson adversely affected Amiss but he bravely remodelled his stance to better enable him to stand up to the very fast bowlers, and at The Oval in 1976 England were facing a total of 687-8 declared. Amiss produced another double century, but this time the West Indies won the match.
  2. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. In the first test of the 1991 series between England and the West Indies, at Headingley, England took a small first innings lead. Curtly Ambrose then served up a storm at the start of the England second innings, taking the first six wickets to fall, with only Ramprakash who exactly matched his first innings 27 having provided Gooch any support. Derek Pringle bravely held out for two hours making 27 of his own, and Gooch shepherded the nine, ten, jack as best he could. England were all out for 252, and Gooch had an unbeaten 154 to his name. The West Indies collapsed in their own second innings and England were victorious. This was by no means Gooch’s highest test score – he made 333 against India in 1990, 210 against New Zealand in 1994, 196 against Australia in 1985 and 183 against New Zealand in 1986 to give a few examples. However, these scores came on flat wickets and against largely modest bowling attacks – of the bowlers involved in those innings only Hadlee (for New Zealand in 1986) and Kapil Dev (for India in 1990) were performers of unquestionably top rank. The Headingley 1991 pitch was a difficult one, and the West Indies bowlers were Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh, three of whom were unquestionably great bowlers and the fourth, Patterson, was seriously, blisteringly quick, although a trifle inconsistent.
  3. Alec Stewart – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. In the third test of the 1994 series England needed 194 to win and had an hour to survive in murky light on the penultimate day. By the end of that hour they were 40-8, courtesy of the old firm of Ambrose and Walsh, and the game ended early the following morning with England out for 46, only one run more than their lowest ever total. The next match was at Bridgetown, Barbados (see yesterday’s post for more about that island’s cricketing pedigree) where no visiting side had triumphed since 1935. Stewart, opening with Atherton in that series, proceeded to notch up twin centuries and England rebounded from their humiliation in the third test with victory in the fourth. Given the make up of the West Indies bowling attack picking three recognized openers is a tactic with plenty going for it anyway.
  4. David Gower – left handed batter. When England began their second innings in the final test of the 1981 tour of the West Indies defeat seemed certain. By the end of day four the odds were still in favour of a West Indies victory, but Gower was on 70, and had some good support from Peter Willey. On the final morning Willey fell, and Ian Botham, captaining the side and struggling for form also fell cheaply. Paul Downton joined Gower in the last chance saloon. The resistance held out, and the match was safe by the time Gower took one last single deep into the last hour to move to 154 not out, the highest individual score for England in the series. This innings, occupying eight hours and scored in the teeth of the most lethal fast bowling unit ever assembled (Andy Roberts had just been dropped after going wicketless in the previous match, leaving a foursome of Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall, the new kid on the block) confirmed Gower’s place among the world’s top batters – his first century had been made against an ordinary New Zealand, his first Ashes century against an under-strength and badly captained Australian side and his 200 not out against India at Edgbaston was scored against a less than stellar attack on a very flat pitch. The next two series between England and the West Indies were both 5-0 to the West Indies, and it was at Headingley in 1988 that England next drew a match against them.
  5. *Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In the Edgbaston test of 1957 England collapsed badly in their first innings against ‘those two little pals of mine, Ram and Val’ – Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine and were made to follow on. Both openers fell cheaply, and May walked out to play an innings in which England needed him to go big. The third England wicket fell with England still adrift, bringing Colin Cowdrey to the crease. May and Cowdrey who came together near the end of day 3 were still in occupation when then fifth and final day got underway. Cowdrey fell for 154 to end a stand of 411, still an England record for any wicket. By the time May declared to give the West Indies an awkward little session of batting he had been at the crease for ten hours and scored 285 not out, at the time a record for an England captain, beating the 240 scored by Hammond at Lord’s in 1938. Ramadhin had wheeled down 98 overs that second England innings and had just two wickets to show for it – and was never to same force again. The West Indies, having for a long time looked like winning were in the end relieved to come away with a draw, having lost seven wickets in the closing stages of the game. England went on to win the series.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the last series before World War II, in 1939, Ames and Hammond shared a fifth wicket stand of 242, then an England record against all comers, to set up a victory.
  7. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He had a couple of magnificent years from 2004 through the summer of 2006, and one of the seemingly endless succession of highlights for him in that period was his highest test score, 167 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in 2006, in an England win.
  8. Angus Fraser – right arm fast medium bowler. He twice took eight wickets in an innings in the Caribbean, including the best ever by an England bowler in that part of the world, 8-53. In 1990 England set off for the Caribbean in what seemed to be a very poor state. The last three series between the two had been 5-0, 5-0 and 4-0 to the Windies, and England had just been thrashed by Australia in the 1989 Ashes. In 1988, which included that 4-0 drubbing by the Windies, 28 players had been called up for England test teams. Then in 1989 against Australia 31 players were named in England test squads and 29 actually took the field for England. The only player to have played every game in both years was David Gower, and he was not picked for the tour of the Caribbean. Greenidge and Haynes started smoothly for the West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica, before their partnership was ended by misadventure – a ball was played to Devon Malcolm who fumbled it, which encouraged Greenidge to turn for a second, Malcolm unleashed a bullet throw and there was a run out. Then in a spectacular role reversal the West Indies middle order folded, and having reached 60 before losing a wicket they were all out for 164 and Fraser had 5-28. A big partnership between Allan Lamb and Robin Smith rammed home England’s advantage, and they won the match. Fraser subsequently had injury problems and also suffered like many others from the attitude of Ray ‘In My Day’ Illingworth when he was England supremo.
  9. Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. When England under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan headed to the Caribbean in 2004 Harmison was just beginning to establish himself as a genuinely top class, genuinely fast bowler. That series underlined his improvement, with his personal highlight being a spell of 7-12 as the West Indies were hustled out for a record low of 47. Nb – when talking about bowling figures number of wickets take precedence, and it is only identical wicket hauls that are split by economy, a reflection of the fact that in non-limited overs cricket you need to take 20 wickets to win the match and that in limited overs cricket getting someone out is still the most definitive way to prevent them from scoring, so although on the basis of runs per wicket (1.71 against 6.63) 7-12 is better than 8-53 the fact that Fraser’s haul was eight wickets rather than seven trumps the difference in economy.
  10. Phil Tufnell – left arm orthodox spinner. England came to The Oval in 1991 2-1 down in the series, needing to win the square it which after the disasters of the 1980s would be a very fine result. A century for Robin Smith and few other useful innings got England to 400 in their first innings. Phil Tufnell then got to work with the ball, beginning his spell of destruction with the psychologically crucial wicket of Viv Richards. That huge breakthrough achieved Tufnell took a further five wickets in his spell, at a cost of a mere four runs. His overall innings figures were 6-25, the West Indies were made to follow on, and England won and squared the series. Before this series, series scores between the two teams since 1980, with England first, had been 0-1, 0-2, 0-5, 0-5, 0-4 and 1-2 – a net 1-18 against England.
  11. Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – leg spinner. The Lancashire and Kent leg spinner, who had been playing county cricket since 1920 was called up for the last test of the 1933 series. England batted first and scored 312. The West Indies were all out for 100 in their first innings, Marriott 5-37 (and Nobby Clark the left arm fast bowler 3-16). England enforced the follow on, the West Indies batted better second time round, but not well enough, being all out for 195, Clifford Roach making 56 opening the batting, Marriott taking 6-59, while the fast bowlers Clark, and Stan Nichols of Essex took two each, left arm spinner Langridge bowling seven wicketless overs. Marriott had 11-96 in the match, and was known to be a pure bowler (711 first class wickets at 20.11, 574 first class runs at 4.41), England had won by an innings and 17 runs, but that was the sum total of Marriott’s test career.

This side has a strong top six, a player who at his best was an x-factor all rounder, and four well varied bowlers. Harmison, Fraser, Flintoff, Marriott and Tufnell is an attack should be useful in all conditions.

THE WEST INDIES

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. On the most difficult pitch of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series he made twin centuries, the first of them being 61% of his team’s innings total. His two double centuries in 1984 are also worthy of mention.
  2. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. In 1957 he carried his bat through an innings, finishing with 191 not out. In 1963 he was captain, and the series was regarded as one of the greatest ever played.
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. A man who averaged 60.83 in test cricket clearly had highlights against every opponent. However, the particular performance that gets him in here came in the 1939 series, when he became the first batter ever to score twin centuries in a Lord’s test.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Was his 232 in the opening match of the 1976 series better than his 291 at The Oval in the final match thereof, were they both trumped by the first test century to be recorded at St John’s Antigua in 1981 or were all other efforts trumped by his 56-ball century at Antigua five years later? That is even before we consider ODIs (138 not out in the 1979 World Cup Final, 189 not – then an ODI record individual score – in an innings total of 272-9 at Old Trafford in 1984). These details provide some indication of why even in 1991 when he was well past his prime his wicket which started Phil Tufnell on his merry way was so psychologically important.
  5. Shai Hope – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. When England and the West Indies convened at Headingley in 2017 533 first class matches had been played at the ground and nobody had ever scored twin tons there, even though some mighty fine batters called the place home, e.g. Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. The person who finally entered the record books by achieving that feat, and did it in a test match to boot, was Shai Hope. Three years on those remain his only two test centuries at test level, a remarkable quirk.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. He had a stack of extraordinary performances against all opposition, as befits the most complete player the game has yet seen. The particular match I have picked on to include him here featured the West Indies deep in trouble when their fifth second innings wicket went down and Sobers being joined at the crease by David Holford, primarily a leg spinner. The pair put on an undefeated 274 together for the sixth wickets, Sobers 163 not out, Holford 105 not out, and England ended up being glad to escape with a draw after losing a few second innings wickets.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Although the West Indies largely dominated the 1988 series (4-0, and the drawn first match owed more to the weather than to the stoutness of England’s resistance), but there was one occasion therein when they hit trouble – 53-5 in their first innings, and Dujon, with support from Logie rescued them – the sixth wicket stand was worth 130, and got the West Indies back into the match.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler. At Headingley in 1984 he sustained a broken arm, a rare case in that era of a West Indian being on the receiving end of an injury. When the ninth West Indian wicket fell Gomes was on 96, and so Marshall went in to bat one-handed to see his team mate to a century. Then, to English consternation, he proceeded to take the new ball. He proceeded to rip through the second England innings with career best figures of 7-53, displacing the 63 and 36 scored by Tennyson batting one-handed against Australia with Gregory and McDonald as the greatest test performance by a cricketer playing with one usable hand.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. In August 1976 England was baking in a heatwave, the pitch at The Oval was absolutely flat and lifeless and the outfield was almost grassless due to the drought. The West Indies piled up 687-8 declared, but even their bowlers could get little out of the pitch, with one exception. Michael Anthony Holding took 8-92 in England’s first innings, the best innings figures at that time by a West Indian fast bowler (a spinner, Jack Noriega, had taken nine wickets in a test innings for them). The West Indies declined enforce the follow-on, giving their bowlers a breather. A declaration  at 182-0 left England needing to match their first innings 435 to win. This time round Holding took 6-57 to give him 14-149 in the match and his side victory and a 3-0 series scoreline.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. I have already mentioned his bowling at Headingley in 1991 and at Trinidad in 1994 (the 46 all out game), but before that he had settled the 1990 series in the West Indies by destroying England in the last two test matches thereof. England had won the opener (see under Fraser), the second, scheduled for Guyana, had been washed out without a ball being bowled, and a combination of more bad weather and some scandalous (and unchecked, never mind punished) time wasting by Desmond Haynes as stand-in captain had condemned the third match at Trinidad to another draw, in spite of Malcolm picking up ten wickets in a test match (6-77 in one innings) for the first time in his career. However, in the final two tests, Ambrose was simply unstoppable, his figures including an 8-45 in one innings. England’s best resistance in those  matches came from pugnacious wicket keeper Jack Russell who produced a day-long rearguard in one of them.
  11. Alf Valentine – left arm orthodox spinner. He made his test debut in the 1950 series and proceeded to capture the first eight England wickets to fall, only to be denied absolute immortality to Berry and Hollies, two of the game’s greatest ‘ferrets’. The feat still remains a record, and helped the West Indies to their first win on English soil, as he and as spin twin Sonny Ramadhin weaved their webs around England’s batters. England did not properly counter this duo until the 1957 series and the May-Cowdrey partnerhsip at Edgbaston.

This team has a stellar top four, a record breaker at five, the most complete player in the game’s history at six, an excellent keeper who can bat and fine quartet of bowlers. The choice of Valentine as specialist spinner means there is a little overlap in skills with Sobers, who numbered left arm orthodox spin among his bowling styles. Marshall, Holding and Ambrose, with Sobers left arm as fourth pace option and Worrell also available looks a superb pace attack, while Valentine’s finger spin and Sobers’ wrist spin should be sufficient in that department.

OTHER CONTENDERS

There are of course many, but I will mention just some of the more obvious. Andy Sandham scored the first ever test match triple century at Sabina Park in 1930, but that match, supposedly ‘timeless’ ended in a draw because England had to go home, taking some of the gloss off the innings. Fred Trueman had a fabulous series against the West Indies in 1963, including a career best test match haul of 12-119 at Edgbaston. Among the all rounders I felt that Greig’s presence would fire the West Indies up too much, so his 13 wicket match haul at Trinidad did not get him in, Ian Botham’s record against the West Indies was very ordinary (one innings haul of 8-103 at Lord’s in 1984, but even that came in a losing cause, and a highest score against them of 81) and Stokes has not had one of his greatest performances against them as yet (the ‘bio-secure’ series may well change that). Brian Lara twice made world test record scores against England (375 in 1994, 400 not out in 2004, both at St Johns, Antigua), but both were accumulated on flat wickets in high scoring, stale, draws, and the latter, as was that case with his 501 not out for Warwickshire v Durham, was definitely an example of the individual counting for more than the team. Courtney Walsh had a magnificent series in England in 2000, at the age of 38, but lack of support from the rest of his team caused it to be in a losing cause, so, with regret, I was not able to pick him. Sonny Ramadhin, Valentine’s spin twin, missed out because of the history making nature of Valentine’s debut. Finally, Ellis ‘Puss’ Achong caused cricket’s terminology to expand when he dismissed Walter Robins, and the chagrined all rounder said as he headed back to the pavilion “fancy being bowled by a chinaman”, which is why that type of delivery is now called a chinaman.

THE CONTEST

This has all the makings of an absolute cracker. The odds definitely favour the West Indies, especially as Worrell has to be considered a better captain than May, but it should be a good contest.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEASER

As a lead in to my regular sign off, here is a teaser from brilliant.org:

Exponent

Solution in tomorrow’s post.

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Eng v WI special
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet VII

Today’s all time XI cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Lots of Photographs as well.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post is our seventh alphabetic progression. We finished yesterday with a B, so today we start with a C.

JW HEARNE’S XI

  1. Chetan Chauhan – right handed opening batter. He was overshadowed by his regular opening partner for India, Sunil Gavaskar, but his record was not a bad one.
  2. +Tillekaratne Dilshan – right handed opening batter, wicket keeper. One of the most innovative of all iternational batters. I admit that he was not a regular wicket keeper, and that the combination of keeping and opening the batting is a tough one, but he did keep on occasion, and I think he could do both jobs.
  3. Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A regular number three and occasional opener. In the last ever ‘timeless’ test match (the 99th such ever played, and it was the events of that game that pretty much killed the notion of timeless tests stone dead – after ten days play it ended in a draw because England had to get back to Cape Town to catch their boat home) Edrich who had endured a nightmare start to his test career produced 219 in the second England innings, as they got to 654-5 chasing 696 to win.
  4. Neil Fairbrother – left handed batter. He holds the record for the highest first class score at a London ground – 366 for Lancashire v Surrey at The Oval, in a monstrosity of a match in which Surrey made 707 and Lancashire 863. He failed to establish himself at test level, partly because the powers that be typecast him as a one-day specialist, where he did have an excellent record.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. 8,231 runs at 44.25 in test cricket, and it would have been more but for the narrow-minded, intolerant attitude of then captain Graham Gooch, which brought the curtain down on his career when he still had plenty to offer. Gower, unlike Gooch, resisted the bait dangled by apartheid South Africa, and did not sign up for either of the two England rebel tours of the 1980s. He scored 58 in his first test innings, making his maiden century against New Zealand later that summer, and scoring a crucial maiden Ashes hundred at Perth on the 1978-9 tour. His 123 at Adelaide on the 1990-1 tour, one of two centuries he made in that series (the only England player to do so), was rated by Don Bradman as among the top five innings he ever saw played in Australia. That tour also saw an epic sense of humour failure by Gooch and manager Mickie Stewart over an incident in which Gower and John Morris of Derbyshire buzzed the upcountry ground at which England were playing in tiger moth planes.
  6. *Jack Hearne – right handed batter, leg spinner. In first class cricket over the course of a long career he averaged 40 with the bat and 24 with the ball, although he did most of his bowling before World War 1, playing largely as a batter thereafter. He was not actually related to the original Jack Hearne, a medium pacer who claimed 3,061 first class wickets (the fourth most ever), but they did both play for Middlesex, and their careers overlapped. I have named as captain, following my belief that all other factors being equal a slow bowling all rounder should be best equipped for the job (exhibit A among actual captains in favour of this theory the late legendary Richie Benaud, exhibit B Ray Illingworth – and as an effective captain who because of the mores of his time never officially had the job I give you exhibit C, Wilfred Rhodes – as witness his comment about Percy Chapman’s England captaincy “Aye ‘ee wor a good ‘un – he allus did what me and Jack telt him”).
  7. Doug Insole – right handed batter. He normally batted a little higher than this, but his attacking approach, often further highlighted by the fact that he was batting in partnership with one TE Bailey, makes him well suited to batting in this position, and I is not the easiest of letters to deal with. After his playing days were done he became a selector, and as chairman of selectors once dropped a well known Yorkshire opener on disciplinary grounds immediately after said worthy had scored 246 not out – an incident with which TMS listeners no longer have to fear being regaled while listening to commentaries.
  8. Ravindra Jadeja – left arm orthodox spinner, left handed lower middle order batter. Test averages of 35 with the bat and 24 with the ball make for a mighty useful no8, and he is also one of the best fielders currently playing the game. For those who produce ‘ah, but he is not so good away from home’ I suggest you check out the away records of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and then come back to me.
  9. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. In 65 first class matches he took 415 wickets at 15.66 each while also averaging 20 with the bat. In the last of his four visits to England with the Philadelphians he claimed 87 wickets in 11 first class appearances to top that season’s bowling averages. He was the pioneer of swing bowling – it was a commonplace in that era before World War 1 for bowlers to rub the new ball in the dirt to remove the shine, and many sides reckoned that to give the opponents a varied challenge it was best to open the bowling with a fast and a slow bowler. Kent, champions four times in the last eight pre world war one seasons, regularly gace the new ball to left arm spinner Blythe alongside right arm fast bowler Arthur Fielder, while Lancashire a decade earlier had used a similar pairing of Briggs and Mold. It was King who taught the cricket world how to use the shine of a new ball as an extra weapon in the bowler’s armoury, and it is now very rare for a slow bowler of any type to get the new ball, although Muralitharan sometimes took it for Sri Lanka.
  10. Jim Laker – off spinner. Probably the best of all classical off spinners, most famous for his destruction of the 1956 Australians (58 of the first 100 wickets he took that season in first class matches wore baggy greens, 46 of them being claimed in the five test matches). On the 1958-9 tour of Australia, although the hosts regained the urn, they were, much to their chagrin, obliged to treat Laker with a degree of respect, and in the four test matches for which he was fit and available he claimed 15 wickets at an economical average. Among English off spinners only Fred Titmus four years later, John Emburey and Geoff Miller against an ill-equipped and badly captained rabble in 1978-9 and John Emburey again in 1986-7 also against a less than full strength side have fared better down under.
  11. Ted McDonald – right arm fast bowler. One half of the first great fast bowling duo seen at test level, along with Jack Gregory (Tom Richardson and Bill Lockwood, pioneer of the slower ball, had opened together for Surrey). After the Ashes series of 1920-1 and 1921, in which Australia won eight straight tests before England drew the last two of the home series he accepted a Lancashire league contract, and went on to playfor the county for some years, combining with Cecil Parkin and Richard Tyldesley to form a bowling unit that saw Lancashire dominate the second half of the 1920s.

This team has a solid batting line up, a competent keeper and a fine array of bowlers. McDonald and King look a splendid new ball pair, Edrich is available if a third pace option is needed, and in Laker, Jadeja and Hearne there is a wonderfully varied trio of spinners.

SYDNEY SMITH’S XI

  1. Mike Norman – right handed opening batter. A consistent county pro rather than a real star.
  2. Alan Ormrod – right handed opening batter. Played for Worcestershire for many years, before finishing his career at Lancashire. He was part of the Worcestershire side involved in the ‘ten minute game’, when Somerset skipper Brian Rose declared after one over, deliberately losing the limited overs match in order to protect his side’s wicket taking rate. The powers that be took a dim view of this, and Somerset were booted out of the competition anyway. Declarations were late banned from limited overs cricket, a move I consider unduly hamfisted, especially now that net run rate is used to split ties. Why shouldn’t a side who are 300-2 after 40 overs and facing possible weather interruptions say to their opponents “OK, we reckon we can defend in this over the full fifty if we have to do, over to you to have a bat”?
  3. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97 in test cricket before his country were forced into international isolation by the fallout from the D’Oliveira case (in fact South Africa were lucky to have lasted as longs as they did in that first incarnation as a test playing nation – various moments could have seen them given the boot well before they were.
  4. +Stanley Quin – right handed batter/ wicket keeper. He played for Victoria in the 1930s, averaging 33 in first class cricket, including a double century, and given how difficult a letter Q is I think this is a pretty good solution. His 24 first class appearances brought him 35 catches and 24 stumpings.
  5. Vernon Ransford – left handed batter. He averaged 37.84 in test cricket – at a time when Victor Trumper, universally regarded as an all-time great, averaged 39.04 at that level, sufficient indication of his class as a performer.
  6. *Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was Northamptonshire’s first ever overseas signing, coming over from the West Indies in 1909, twenty years before they took their test bow, and doing the double in his first season of county cricket. He finished his career averaging 31 with the bat and 18 with the ball. Making a standard ‘covered pitches inflation’ adjustment of 50% up for each average that equates to averaging 46 with the bat and 27 with the ball today.
  7. George Thompson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. The man, along with Bill East, who was most responsible for Northants’ elevation to first class rank in 1905, and the first Northamptonshire cricketer to play for his country – and he did not fare badly at that level either, more especially given that by the time the chance arrived he was already past 30.
  8. Rana Naved Ul-Hasan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He first appeared on scoresheets as Naved Ul-Hasan, before indicating a preference for Rana Naved, and U is not an easy letter to fill. He played for Sussex for some years, and had a lot in common with an earlier Sussex stalwart, Maurice Tate, both being fast medium bowlers who loved to give the ball a good clout with the bat.
  9. Vince Van der Bijl right arm fast medium. Took his first class wickets at 16.54 each. A combination of the political situation in South Africa and his unwillingness to completely cast adrift from his native land cost him a test career. He was a popular overseas star for Middlesex. On one occasion when the county lost a Sunday League (an aeon or so ago counties played 40 overs per side matches on Sundays, accumulating points towards a league title) match by eight runs and when they got back to the dressing room Van der Bijl opened the post -mortem by saying “sorry folks, those two half volleys I bowled early in my spell cost us”, thereby preventing any recriminations from developing.
  10. Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spinner. Australian born, but moved to England and enjoyed a long career with Leicestershire – one of a number of Aussie spinners of that era to decide that the grass was greener elsewhere.
  11. Xara Jetly – off spinner. The trickiest letter of the lot, but the teenage Kiwi may yet go on to establish herself as a top player – it is certainly a name I will have half an eye one for the future. The women play almost exclusively limited overs cricket, which reduces the potential for really big wicket hauls, but there is a 3-35 among her recent sets of figures.

This team may be a little short of really top drawer batters (only Pollock and Ransford qualify for that description), but it does have great depth – everyone down to no8 has the capacity to play a match winning innings. The bowling, with a pace trio of Rana Naved Ul-Hasan, Vince Van der Bijl and George Thompson backed by tweakers Xara Jetly, Jack Walsh and Sydney Smith looks really good.

THE CONTEST

This should be a cracker. JW Hearne’s XI are stronger in batting, but not quite as strong in bowling. I suspect that Sydney Smith’s XI would need Graeme Pollock to ‘come to the party’ to win, but he usually managed that, so I cannot predict a winner.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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TTA VII
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VI

Our sixth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in this ‘all time XI’ cricket series, a solution to yesterday’s teaser and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In today’s all time XIs cricket post we continue with our alphabetic progression. Yesterday we ended on an F, so today we start from G.

BILL O’REILLY XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. He was a crucial part of the West Indies success in the 1980s. In the 1984 series in England the West Indies were twice in deep trouble, and both times were hauled out of it by Greenidge. At Old Trafford he saved the day with an innings of 223 in 10 hours at the crease, and the Windies emerged victorious. At Lord’s the Windies were set 342 to win in just under a full day (and Gower, the England captain, was criticized for not declaring earlier, and for allowing his batters to accept on offer of the light when they should, four fast bowlers notwithstanding, have stayed out there. The West Indies won by nine wickets, with Greenidge blazing his way to 214 not out, while Larry Gomes (92 not out) played the supporting role to perfection. In the MCC Bicentennary match he made a century, notable for the setting of a fielder specifically to cut down the number of runs the reverse sweep was bringing him. A long county career with Hampshire helped him to score more first class hundreds (90) than any other West Indian bar Viv Richards.
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter. He was Greenidge;s regular opening partner for Barbados and the West Indies. Barbados, a coral island similar in size to the Isle of Wight has produced over 70 test match cricketers – an all time batting order with these two opening, the three Ws at 3,4 and 5, Sobers at six, a keeper and four bowlers, two of them Marshall and Garner is shaping up mightily impressively. The Isle of Wight for comparison has produced a few cricketers who reached the dizzy heights of the Hampshire 2nd XI. Haynes and Greenidge put on over 6,000 runs together in first wicket stands at test level, although their average opening stand is not quite as eye-popping as the 87 of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. The young Indian, noted for his aggressive approach, has yet to play test cricket, but hes an averages 52 in first class cricket and has made a remarkable start to his ODI career. I can envisage him being devastating after Greenidge and Haynes have given the innings their usual strong start (and similarly when the time comes coming in after the Sharma/ Agarwal opening partnership has been broken).
  4. Mahela Jayawardene – right handed batter. He holds the record for the highest test score by a right handed batter, 374 vs South Africa, when he and gthe left handed Kumar Sangakkara put on 624 together for the third wicket, starting from 14-2. Three higher individual test scores have been recorded, Lara’s 400 not out and 375, which both came in high scoring draws, whereas Jayawardene’s set his side up for an innings victory, and Matthew Hayden’s 380, scored against a hapless Zimbabwe team at Perth. Following the list on down, Sobers’ 365 not out was made against a Pakistan side who fielded only two front line bowlers, Hutton’s 364 at The Oval set his side up for a crushing victory, Jayasuriya’s 340 came in a monstrosity of a game at Colombo (over 100 runs per wicket through the five days), Hanif Mohammad’s 337 secured a draw for his side, Hammond’s 336 not out and Bradman’s 334 both came in drawn games- not that many of the super-huge scores have actually helped their team to win.
  5. Rohan Kanhai – right handed batter. His record at first class and test level is highly impressive, and I have the word of CLR James, that he was an absolute genius with a bat in his hand.
  6. Geoffrey Legge – right handed batter. He played for Kent and England. He managed only one century for his country, but it was a big one – 196.
  7. +Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth missed the first ever test match because he believed that only Billy Murdoch could keep to his bowling (he came in to the side when the second match was arranged, apparently convinced that the chosen keeper, Blackham, was good enough after all), so although it was not where he usually played in test cricket he did have pedigree as a wicket keeper. His batting deeds included 153 not out in the first test on English soil at The Oval, the first ever test double century at the same ground four years later, 286 for Australia in a tour match and a first class triple century, at a time when only WG Grace (twice) and Walter Read of Surrey had previously achieved the feat.He played county cricket for Sussex and was part of WG Grace’s ultimately ill-fated London County venture.
  8. Dion Nash – right arm fast medium bowler. An effective swing bowler for New Zealand in the 1990s, and by no means valueless as a lower order batter.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Nicknamed ‘tiger’ for his on field ferocity (he was later to be fairly ferocious with a pen in his hand as well), he bowled faster than most of his type (one action shot of him was erroneously labelled ‘Bill O’Reilly, Australia fast bowler, and seeing it one can understand how the mistake happened).Donald Bradman rated him the best bowler he ever saw or faced, although as O’Reilly himself acknowledged Bradman was the one opposition batter who generally had his measure. World War II basically ended his career at the top level, although he played a one-off test against New Zealand, taking a hatful of cheap wickets but also learning the hard way that his knees were finally knackered.
  10. Jamie Porter – right arm fast bowler. Has done good things for his county Essex, but has not yet been given the opportunity to perform at a higher level. I hope he does get the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He has 329 first class wickets at 24.31.
  11. Hamidullah Qadri – off spinner. He currently pays 35 per wicket in his fledgling first class career, and needs to reduce that figure, but he is still very young, and he did enjoy some success in the last U19 world cup. Given that I already had a legspinner (more on this later), the alternative was Imran Qayyum, a left arm orthodox spinner, but he pays 43 per wicket, which is simply too expensive to hold out serious hopes of him making the grade.

This side has a stellar batting line up but is a trifle light on bowling options. Nonetheless I would expect it to give a good account of itself.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Strong cases could be made for the selection of Gavaskar or Gooch as my opening batter whose name begins with G, and a respectable one for Chris Gayle, while Jack Hobbs and Matthew Hayden could both have been picked as the opener whose name begins with H, with Tom Hayward also a possibility. However, Greenidge and Haynes functioned superbly well as a pair, and I have opted for them because of that detail. Abdul Qadir deserves credit for keeping the embers of the torch of leg spin bowling aglow in the 1980s, to be fanned in full blazing flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s, but with Bill O’Reilly in the side I did not especially want a second leg spinner, so I went with the unknown quantity of Hamidullah Qadri.

ANDREW STRAUSS’ XI

  1. Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. A test average of 46 is testament to his class. In the great 1947 season when Denis Compton and Bill Edrich rewrote the record books Robertson hit 12 first class centuries, very often teeing the innings up for the other two.
  2. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to no one in the world at test cricket, and who averaged over 40 with the bat, both as captain and in the ranks gets the nod here.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the twentieth century only two professionals were selected in England teams purely for their batting, this man and David Denton of Yorkshire.
  4. Inzamam Ul-Haq – right handed batter. He announced his arrival at the top level with an innings of 60 off 37 balls in the 1992 World Cup (back then, performances like that were not commonplace).
  5. James Vince – right handed batter. Has a good record for Hampshire, and has done fairly well in limited overs matches for England. His test career has featured far too many well compiled 20s and 30s and no really major innings (83 at Brisbane is his highest).
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Selecting him as wicket keeper, enables me to pick a strong bowling line up.
  7. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. This is about the right position for him, and X is a difficult letter.
  8. Bruce Yardley – off spinner. He was effective for Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, once being te match winner against the West Indies at a time when defeats for them were a great rarity.
  9. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. Has done some good things for Afghanistan and may yet get better still. Certainly worth his place.
  10. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. Zadran could only benefit from sharing the new ball with an experienced partner, and they don’t come much more experienced in that regard than the man who has taken more test wickets than any other pace bowler, and the most by any Eng;land bowler (and officially he is still counting).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The list of visiting quick bowlers to really rattle the Aussies in their own backyard is not a long one, although the West Indies in the great years under Lloyd and Richards had a few. The list of Indian bowlers of serious pace is also not a long one – Amar Singh in the 1930s, and Javagal Srinath in the 1990s are the only two before the present era who I can think of. If one were to use the two lists to create a Venn diagram, there would be one name in the overlap between the two circles: Jasprit Bumrah, whose sheer speed in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy was more responsible than anything else for India’s triumph.

This team has an excellent top six, Xenophon Balaskas at seven can be considered an all-rounder, Yardley may provide some assistance to the top order, and then there are three pace bowlers. With Anderson to guide and encourage them the two younger bowlers, Bumrah and Zadran should fare well. If there is real turn Xenophon Balaskas and Yardley should be capable of exploiting it. This looks a fine side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Bobby Simpson would have his advocates for the opening slot I gave to Strauss. I thought about picking Radha Yadav, the left arm spinner, for the no eight slot but decided that gave me too long a tail (Anderson at 10 is definitely in the ‘rabbit’ category with the bat, while Bumrah is a ‘ferret’ – someone who comes after the raqbbits).

THE CONTEST

Bill O’Reilly XI have a very deep batting line up packed with class, but they are short of bowling guns. Andrew Strauss’ XI have less in the way of batting riches, although their top order is strong on any reckoning, but they do have what looks a strong and balanced bowling unit. My reckoning, based on the evidence from cricket’s history is that it is the bowlers who settle matches, and so my reckoning is that Andrew Strauss’ XI start as firm favourites.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I set this teaser, from brilliant.org:

Octagons

Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s excellent published solution:

Oct Sol

As an habitue of brilliant.org I recognized a trick when I saw it and realized that the trick answer given the wording of the question was that the areas were equal and therefore went for that as my answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s teams, assessed the contest and presented the solution to yesterday’s teaser. The only thing left to for this post to be complete is my usual sign off…

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TTA VI
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet V

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Also features a mathematical teaser and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression theme. Yesterday’s second XI ended with a J, so we start with an opening batter whose name begins with K.

SHAUN UDAL’S XI

  1. Don Kenyon – right handed opening batter. A consistent and reliable opener for Worcestershire over a number of years.
  2. David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. After a distinguished career for Lancashire and nine appearances in test matches he went to become a highly entertaining commentator and writer, and a good coach.
  3. Roy Marshall – right handed batter. He usually opened, mainly for Hampshire. Regular openers often fare well at number three – Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan are two who did so for England.
  4. Brendan Nash – right handed batter. Australian born, but played for the West Indies.
  5. Simon O’Donnell – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Toured England in 1985 as a promising young all rounder, but did not quite make the grade at test level (he was a casualty of a rebuilding effort that paid dramatic fruit starting in 1989 with an Ashes win in England and going on to become a dominant international force). He finished his first class career with a first class batting average of 39 and a bowling average of 37.
  6. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium.
  7. +Quinn Sunde – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Finding Qs to fit the bill calls for some flexibility. He is only just 19 and has not yet played first class cricket, but has played for NZ U-19.
  8. Graham Rose – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. A Somerset stalwart, who did not do quite enough to attract the attention of the England selectors. I saw him in  action in 1996 at Swansea, and he took four cheap wickets in a Glamorgan total of 310 in the first innings. Somerset took a small lead, with Lathwell playing fluently early in their innings and Hayhurst and Bowler providing grittier efforts, while Steve Watkin had a very similar analysis to Rose’s. Somerset’s advantage was insufficient – Robert Croft spun them to defeat on the final day. His averages are just the right way round, and hos bowling average is just less than 30.
  9. Brian Statham – right arm fast bowler. 252 test wickets at 24 each, mainly from the wrong end – for Lancashire when he had the choice of ends he took his wickets at just 16 a piece. Like his successor as Lancashire and England new ball bowler, James Anderson, he batted left handed, occasionally playing very useful innings – in one of the 1954-5 Ashes matches he was involved in a crucial partnership in England’s first innings – the last wicket stand between him and Johnny Wardle account for 43 of a total of 154, and England won that game by 38 runs. Also, at a time when quite a few of his colleagues had to be ‘hidden’ in the field he was excellent in that department as well.
  10. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The other half of that 1954-5 Ashes winning new ball pairing. His was a brief but spectacular career – he had other strings to his bow, which meant that he did not have worry about prolonging his career, and by the end of the 1950s he was finished as a professional.
  11. *Shaun Udal – off spinner, captain. A long career, mainly for Hampshire, before moving to Middlesex for his last few years. He did get to play for England but did not fare very well at the highest level.

This team has a decent top four, one good and one great all rounder, a wicket keeper and a bowling foursome that looks pretty good. It is deficient in the spin department – the only back up available for Udal’s off spin is Lloyd’s part time left arm spin.

GEORGE DENNETT’S XI

  1. Joe Vine – right handed batter, leg spinner. The role he played for Sussex for many years, and briefly for England. Sussex in that period were a magnificent batting side, but somewhat light on bowlers, so they never seriously threatened in the county championship – there is a vast mass of evidence to support the contention that if you are going to a little short in either of these departments it is better to be light in batting – good bowlers do not need absolutely huge totals to defend, whereas unless you get lucky with opposition declarations you cannot win games without taking 20 wickets. This is why, when I started this series with a look at the 18 first class counties and restricted myself to one overseas player per county that overseas choice was nearly always a bowler, occasionally an all rounder and almost never a pure batter.
  2. Benjamin Wilson – right handed opening batter. He was Wilfred Rhodes’ most regular Yorkshire opening partner in the years immediately before World War 1. He was sometimes criticized for taking an overly defensive approach to his innings (I have an idea that there was a more recent Yorkshire opener who also got that kind of criticism!).
  3. Xavier Marshall – right handed batter. A man who has played for two international sides – the West Indies where he was born and the USA. X, like Q, calls for a wee bit of flexibility.
  4. Mohammad Yousuf – right handed batter. After a slightly suspect top three we come to someone who averaged over 50 in his test career. He finished under something of a cloud (and I saw every ball of that shocking match in Sydney which he basically handed to Australia after Pakistan had taken a first innings lead of 200). First, with Hussey and tail ender Siddle resuming overnight and Australia only 74 to the good he failed to set attacking fields, and his tactics allowed Australia to reach lunch with no further loss. Then, with Pakistan needing 176, when it should have been under 100, he surrendered his own wicket to an appalling stroke, leaving his side 54-4 and with no experienced front line batters left.
  5. Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. England’s performance in the 1996 World Cup was one of their most disgraceful ever in any tournament, on-field incompetence being matched by bad behaviour off it (skipper Atherton, who should have been nowhere near a limited overs side in any case,  called one reporter who was having difficulty phrasing a question in what was after all not his first language a buffoon, and there were other cringeworthy stories as well). England reached the quarter finals only because they had been put in a group with two non-test playing nations, Holland and the United Arab Emirates, the only two teams they beat in that competition (justice was done in the quarter-final when they were marmalised by Sri Lanka). The Holland win was decidedly unconving, with Zuiderent, then only 18, and Van Noortwijk plundering a century stand together – it was only Van Noortwijk’s dismissal to a boundary catch that finally put England in control. Zuiderent’s share of the spoils was a merry 54. He did not go on to great things after that start, but his innings that day, which garnered more plaudits than Hick’s century for England had, gets him his place as a middle order batter beginning with Z.
  6. +Tim Ambrose – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He made a century on test debut, but never fully established himself. For Sussex and then Warwickshire he was a consistent run getter in the middle of the order and a superb wicket keeper.
  7. Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, right handed batter. She began as a pure bowler, but although not doing so as effectively as Ellyse Perry who also began down the order she has developed her batting to a level that allows her to be described as an all rounder.
  8. Tom Cartwright – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. The obverse of Brunt in terms of career development – he started as mainly a batter, and actually scored a first class double century playing as such, before dropping down the order because his bowling was more valuable to the side than his batting. He started with Warwickshire and moved to Somerset. He became so metronomically accurate that it is claimed that at the end of a season at Taunton there would be a worn patch two feet long and six inches wide at one end, where he had been lading the ball time after time through the season. He played a walk-on role (more accurately walk-off) in the D’Oliveira affair – he was initially selected in the 1968-9 tour party to South Africa, while D’Oliveira to general consternation was left out. Cartwright then withdrew citing injury, but as he later admitted, actually because he did not wish to go to South Africa. His replacement was D’Oliveira, mainly a batter, and Balthazar Johannes Vorster, then South African president, proceeded to state that D’Oliveira would not be accepted (attempts had earlier been made to bribe D’Oliveira, as documented by Peter Oborne in his book “Basil D’Oliveira”), and the tour was promptly cancelled. England and South Africa next went head to head in 1994, and a visit by Bradman to South Africa in which he had a face to face meeting with Vorster, and the latter, erroneously feeling safe, gave vent to some unvarnished racism led to the final isolation of apartheid South Africa.
  9. *George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. When cricinfo tweeted yesterday asking for people’s suggestions for the best player never to have played test cricket this man was mine. 2,151 wickets at 19.82 each in first class cricket, mainly for Gloucestershire, and never an England call up. This is because when he was in his pomp first Wilfred Rhodes and then Colin Blythe (2,503 first class wickets at 16) were ahead of him in the pecking order of left arm spinners, and Frank Woolley, worth his place as a batter anyway, also bowled left arm orthodox spin. Similarly, when I named my Gloucestershire all-time XI (second post in this series), Charlie Parker, third leading wicket taker in first class history got the left arm spinner’s position, with the off-spin of Tom Goddard (no 5 on the all time first class wicket taking list with 2,979) in support. The mores of his time prevented it from even being a consideration then, but I have named him as captain of this team, a job I think he would have done well.
  10. Fidel Edwards – right arm fast bowler. A genuinely fast bowler for the West Indies, at a time when they as a side were struggling. His tendency to waywardness is partially addressed by the fact that the support pace bowlers, Cartwright and Brunt are both noted for accuracy.
  11. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. He was the reason for Denis Compton choosing this most difficult type of bowling when he decided to add a second string to his bow. He was often expensive, but always capable of bowling the wicket taking ball.

This team has a respectable top order, a quality keeper who can bat well in the middle od the order, and five players selected principally for their bowling, although two of them could definitely make significant contributions with the bat. There is not a front line off spinner, but Dennett, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine are a fine and varied trio of spinners, while the presence of Brunt and Cartwright should enable Edwards ton be used in short bursts.

THE CONTEST

Shaun Udal’s XI are somewhat stronger in batting (if only because they bat deeper)  than George Dennett’s XI, but their bowling attack is not as well balanced. I would expect George Dennett’s XI to prevail, and would be absolutely certain that they would do so on a turner, as Udal backed by Lloyd’s part time stuff hardly compares with Dennettt, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This problem came up on brilliant.org today:

Octagons

The original question has multiple choice answers, but I am not offering that. I will offer you a gentle hint – there are three possible answers to this question. In tomorrow’s post I will include an official solution and an explanation of my own ‘method’.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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TTA V
The teams in tabulated form

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet IV

Our all time XIs resume the alphabetic progression seen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

For today’s all time XI cricket post we revert to the alphabetic progression that I started on Friday and continued on Saturday and Sunday. No 11 in Sunday’s second XI began with an N, so today’s first XI starts with an opener who begins with O.

HEDLEY VERITY’S XI

  1. Javed Omar – right handed opening batter. His test record looks modest, but he had very little support at the top of the Bangladesh order (his most frequent opening partner, Hannan Sarkar, was once out to the first delivery of each of three successive test matches).
  2. Alviro Petersen – right handed opening batter. A so-so record in test cricket for South Africas, but a regular big scorer in the county championship. His overall FC average is just above 40 runs an innings, good enough to suggest a player of quality.
  3. Willie Quaife – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. A fine and consistent upper order batter for Warwickshire for a very long period, signing off with a hundred in his last match, at the age of 56 years and 4 months, the oldest scorer of first class hundred there has ever been (WG Grace notched his 126th and last on his 56th birthday, going on to 166 in that innings). There were question marks about the legality of his bowling action, and the most famous occasion on which his bowling featured prominently did not end well for Warwickshire – when Hampshire made their astonishing recovery at Edgbaston in 1922 after being rolled for 15 in the first innings he bowled 49 overs, being then 50 years of age, as Hampshire reached 521 at the second attempt. Warwickshire, exhausted from their efforts in the field and dispirited by Hampshire’s Houdini act then collapsed to 158 all out in their own second innings, the match ending in a Hampshire victory by 155 runs at 4:20PM on third and final scheduled day.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Had he been able to play all five tests of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series against England Don Bradman’s 974 runs in the 1930 Ashes series would almost certainly have been overtaken. Richards missed the third match of that series through injury, scoring 829 in the other four games. In the final match of the 1985-6 home series v England, with quick runs the order of the day as the Windies pushed for a second successive blackwash of their opponents, Richards smashed a century off 56 balls, at the time the fewest ever to reach that mark in a test match (still third on that list).
  5. Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. Only one left handed batter has scored more test career runs than him, Alastair Cook. The biggest partnership for any wicket in first class cricket is the 624 that he and Mahela Jayawardene put on against South Africa.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the most accomplished keepers the game has ever seen and a fine stroke making batter as well. Mental health issues cut short her career, but she did plenty enough in the time she did play to justify her selection.
  7. George Ulyett – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. An attacking all rounder for Yorkshire and England in the late 19th century. He had a test best score of 149, and test best innings bowling figures of 7-36. In the test match at The Oval in 1882, the second ever on English soil after 1880, he top scored with 26 in the England first innings, and was third out in the second, with the score at 51, and only another 34 needed to win. Grace fell two runs later, having become only the second player in the game to record a 30+ innings, and the middle and lower order froze in the face of Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth’s unbridled hostility. In the end Peate’s wild heave against Harry Boyle might contact only with fresh air, and the stumps were rattled, leaving England beaten by seven runs. He also had a famous fielding moment in the course of his England career, when he took a catch of a shot that Bonnor, the legendary Aussie hitter had absolutely middled.
  8. *Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets in less than a full decade at that level, at 14.90 each. 144 test wickets at 24 – when contending with a combination of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. I have awarded him the captaincy that the mores of his time withheld from him, because I believe he would have been excellent at the job.
  9. Bill Whitty – left arm fast medium bowler. He had an excellent record in the years just prior to World War 1 breaking out. In terms of bowling averages only two Aussie left armers of pace have subsequently had records to compare with his (65 wickets at 21.12 from 14 test appearances), Alan Davidson (186 wickets at 20.53) and Bill Johnston who will be meeting later.
  10. Xara Jetly – off spinner. The young Kiwi is very much a prospect rather than an established player, but her last set of bowling figures recorded on cricinfo were 3-35, and I expect the hear more of her in due course (she is only 18, and has appeared a handful of time for Wellington Women).
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. Has all the ingredients – extra pace, rikght handed as opposed to left, etc, to make an excellent new ball partner for Bill Whitty. His first big moments were in the 1992 test series in England, when the home batters simply could not handle him. He subsequently played county cricket for first Surrey, and then Glamorgan, spearheading the bowling for the latter when they won the championship in 1997. Once in an ODI against England he took the first seven wickets to fall, the first time that had ever been done.

This team has a fine top five, albeit there is a question mark over Javed Omar, a great wicket keeping all rounder at six, the perfect type of all rounder to be coming at seven, and four well varied bowlers. Waqar Younis and Bill Whitty as mentioned should combine well with the new ball, Ulyett wuld be an excellent third seamer, and Verity’s class as a left arm spinner as unchallengable. His ‘spin twin’, Xara Jetly is admittedly an unknown quantity, but bowling in tandem with Verity could only help her. Quaife’s leg spin is more than adequate for a sixth bowler.

DON BRADMAN’S XI

  1. Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. Whatever he does he will do at a rapid rate.
  2. Azhar Ali – right handed opening batter. Averages 42 in test cricket, and had some very fine innings for Somerset as their overseas player. He and Zazai don’t need to score bucket loads opening for this team, just enough to set the stage for…
  3. Don Bradman – right handed batter. The greatest batter there has ever been, and number three was his preferred slot.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner. A man who averaged 50 in test cricket, including scores of 145 and 184 against the 1948 invincibles. His record would have been even more amazing but for a long term knee injury.
  5. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. Had he been able to make his debut for his native land when in his mid 20s, instead of for his adopted land ten years later he would probably have had a record to put him among the all time greats. As it was, he averaged 40 in test cricket, starting at age 35 and ending at age 41. He also played probably the most important innings ever, the 158 at The Oval in 1968 that underlined his claim to a place in the tour party to South Africa that winter, and that triggered the events that led to the sporting isolation of apartheid South Africa.
  6. Grant Elliott – right handed batter, right arm medium paced bowler. Another cricketer born in South Africa  who sought pastures new, albeit for different reasons. He has played for New Zealand, mainly in limited overs cricket.
  7. +Bruce French – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was in his prime when the England selection approach was at its most inconsistent – the second half of the 1980s, which saw the England gauntlets spread around Paul Downton, him, Jack Richards and Jack Russell (and probably others I have forgotten).
  8. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. His ODI economy rate was just 3.09 runs per over, he also had a magnificent test record, and as a youngster possessed one of the most powerful throwing arms ever seen on a cricket field. He was broad and solid in proportion to his 6’8″ height, which helped to spare him from the kind of stress related injuries that plagued beanpoles such as Bruce Reid. The immense height from which he brought the ball down (approx 10 feet given the length of his arms and the fact that he had a high action) made things extremely tricky for opposing batters, especially at his native Barbados where his arm was coming from above the height of the sight screen.
  9. Bill Hitch – right arm fast below. Over 1,000 first class wickets at 21 a piece, but he was never an England regular such was the bowling strength available in his day. Playing for Surrey meant that a lot of his bowling was done at The Oval, not a ground that tops many bowler’s lists of favourites.
  10. Jack Iverson – right arm wrist spinner. A one place promotion from his usual spot for ‘wrong grip Jake’. I have used the designation right arm wrist spinner because although he bowled with a leg spinner’s action (augmented by flicking the ball with his middle finger) his principal delivery was the off break, which confused opposition batters no end. He was only once collared in first class cricket, when Keith Miller and Arthur Morris realized that getting well down the pitch was the way to play him. He played one test series, and was instrumental in Asutralia winning it, capturing 21 cheap wickets.
  11. Bill Johnston – left arm medium fast bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. Three times in the post World War Two era he was Australia’s leading wicket taker in a series. It was not unknown when conditions warranted it for Johnston to switch straight from spinning the old ball to swinging the new. His 40 test match appearances yielded 160 wickets at 23.91.

This team has an adequate looking opening pair, the incomparable Bradman at three, Compton at four, two fine players at five and six who can fill in as support bowlers, an excellent keeper and a marvellous line up of bowlers. Garner, Hitch and Johnston look an excellent pace trio, while Iverson’s spin would pose a stern test, and if a second spinner is needed Johnston can bowl in his slower style.

AN HONOURABLE MENTION

Some would argue that I should have picked Sobers ahead of Sangakkara, but with virtually all of Sobers’ bowling skills covered by specialists in the persons of Verity and Whitty I felt that Sangakkara’s batting style was more suited to the team’s needs than that of Sobers. It is a very close call.

THE CONTEST

This is a close call – the advantage the Bradman gives his own XI is to an extent negated by the presence of Verity, the one bowler he acknowledged facing as an equal in the opposition. Also, bearing in mind 1932-3, if Younis were to strike early with the new ball I would be tempted to set a 7-2 legside field for him and see how Bradman stands up to a barrage – possibly deploying Ulyett from the other end, also with a packed legside field as well. I would just about favour Verity’s XI to emerge victorious, and if the match was being played on an uncovered pitch I would make them distinct favourites, because they are better equipped to take advantage of a rain affected surface than Bradman’s XI, and Bradman himself rarely succeeded with the bat on such surfaces.

PHOTOGRAPHS

We end with my usual sign off:

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Caterpillar on anettle 1
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Caterpillar on a nettle 2
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Caterpillar no nettle 3
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The aerial view of the indivdual nettle plant selected by this caterpillar.

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TTA IV
The teams in tabuilated form.